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Group outlines ‘Complete Streets’ idea in Cassadaga

OBSERVER Photos by Natasha Matteliano Visions of crosswalks on Main Street and Bard Road fill the heads of the Citizens for a Better Cassadaga board members.

CASSADAGA — One-way streets, crosswalks and sidewalks could all improve the quality of life and safety of residents.

Peter George, of the board for Citizens for a Better Cassadaga (CBC), recently visited the Cassadaga Village Board. He shared many ideas on how to improve the well-being of Cassadaga residents, regarding Complete Streets.

Complete Streets is a policy adopted by Chautauqua County that recommends all modes of travel be considered in the design of projects. Projects are then evaluated by the County’s Complete Streets interdepartmental task force for the feasibility of installing sidewalks, paving of shoulders, lane striping, bicycle lanes, share the road signs, crosswalks, road configurations, traffic calmers and other similar initiatives.

A Complete Street is a roadway planned and designed to consider the safe, convenient access and mobility of all roadway users of all ages and abilities. This includes pedestrians, bicyclists, public transportation riders and motorists; it includes children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.

Not only improving the roadways, Complete Streets is an initiative to contribute to a “cleaner, greener transportation system” and “more citizens will achieve the health benefits associated with active forms of transportation while traffic congestion and auto related air pollution will be reduced,” as stated in the act signed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in 2011.

While some initiatives have been taken in Cassadaga, George interviewed the CBC board, and they would like to see more done to improve the quality of life for residents. They identified four key problems areas in the village at the current time.

The first problem area in the village is vehicle speeds, according to the board. “Almost every person who walks or runs or bikes on village streets has a horror story of how they almost got hit,” George said. “It’s a key issue and traffic is generally moving too fast.”

CBC members thought of some ideas for improving the issues in the village. For vehicle speed, the board would like to consider lowering the speed limit on Route 60. This has been an idea supported by the board for a while now, as they already have a petition going around for it. The problem is, the speed limit they want to change is technically in the Town of Pomfret. Another solution for the speeding in the village is increased speed enforcement.

“This can be either through police or potentially even lighted signs that increase driver awareness,” George said.

The next key issue is the lack of sidewalks and crosswalks in the village. “It also includes improving the sidewalks and crosswalks we do have,” George said.

An idea that came about for sidewalks included extending the current sidewalks all the way to Shurfine. The only problem with that, like the speed limit, is that would also be in the Town of Pomfret. An idea for safely crossing streets in the village is to put in highly-visible and distinct crosswalks at key intersections, the most key one at the moment being Bard Road and Route 60, according to George.

The third key component of having Complete Streets in Cassadaga is to maintain the streets for walkers, runners, and bikers. “Maintenance is important because you can have a wonderful paved shoulder, but if it’s got a lot of gravel on it, it can become unsafe very quickly,” George said.

The last key issue is Park Avenue. The traffic flow on Park Avenue is extremely busy and chaotic in the summer, especially for events. “Improvements can be made to the way people move through the Park Avenue area for events,” George said.

One idea from the board that George said he had never thought of is to make Park Avenue a one-way street.

“Included in this would also be more handicapped parking and an extended drop-off zone,” George said. “Possibly in conjunction with that, we could pave and line the village parking lot (across from the Fire Department) and set it up as a municipal parking lot.”

Though a nice idea, some village board members feel, others thought realistically on the potential project. Sam Alaimo, superintendent of Public works in Cassadaga, expressed his thoughts on the one-way street and parking lot.

“The parking lot across from the fire department actually belongs to them, it doesn’t belong to the village,” Alaimo said. “As for the one-way street, it may be hard to implement. There are people who have been living there for 60 years and they might not agree with it.”

Though these ideas are worth looking into and are interesting, according to Mayor Bill Dorman, some are not feasible, at least in the near future.

“We realize that we are not bringing a list here and saying ‘these are things we have to do tomorrow,'” George explained to the village board. “These are issues that we ought to be thinking about as we do our regular planning activities and maintenance. We want to keep these things in mind.”

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